When I overhauled my Life List earlier this year, I decided to make 2014 the year I cross off “read 100 books in 365 days.” I’ve been tracking my books here and on Goodreads, but today I decided to take a closer look at how things stand midway through the year.
This analysis is prompted in part by my friend Kendra, who ran a similar but significantly more ambitious project last year in which she read 5 books a week, meticulously blogged reviews of each one, and tracked the diversity of the authors she was reading (leading to an awesome talk at the Boston Quantified Self meetup which you should watch right now). Taking a cue from her, I created a spreadsheet today to track a couple of different things:
- Date I finished reading the book (some of these are approximate; if I’ve been reading a lot I tend to add things to Goodreads in batches)
- Author (books with multiple authors have each author listed on a separate line)
- Author sex
- Continent the author is “from,” defined loosely as “spent formative childhood/teenage years in”
- Whether or not the author is a person of color
- My Goodreads rating of the book (1-5, 5 highest)
- Page length
Verdict: I’m not doing so great. I need to read just over 8 books a month to make it to 100 by the end of the year, but I’ve only hit that goal once—in January.
I got close in April, probably because the 7 books I read were comparatively short:
I expected that most of what I would read would be fiction (by which I mean “literary fiction,” as opposed to young adult fiction or fantasy novels), but I’m reading a surprising number of memoirs, plus a fair number of other types of books—a shooting script, two books of marriage-related humor, and two cookbooks (which I tend to read cover-to-cover as soon as I bring them home), among other things.
Digging into author diversity is somewhat surprising, though I had the benefit of Kendra’s experience to prepare me—I think of myself as someone who tends to gravitate to novels about other places (see this Ask Metafilter question, where I beg for recommendations for lengthy, place-oriented fiction), and I assumed that the authors I read this year would be diverse at least in continent of origin, if not in sex. Sadly, no:
I didn’t enter into this project with any specific goals around diversity, but it’s clear that I’m reading largely books by authors from the global north. (Interestingly, over the course of the year so far I’ve managed to read almost as many female authors as male—just over 42%.)
My reading list right now is even less diverse—a quick scan of my unread Kindle books reveals nine by American or British men and one by an American woman. This is where you come in: I have six months and 70 books to go. What should I be adding to the queue?